Disclaimer: Stealing is wrong . . . or at least, that's what they want you to think.
"This is useless," Harry said as he threw the catalogue onto the table. "Nothing here will help me survive another fight with Voldemort."
"Just keep looking Harry," Hermione encouraged. "We're bound to find something."
"We've been looking through these catalogues for ages," Harry retorted. "And we haven't found anything, it looks like none of the shops in Diagon alley can help us… I think we've hit another dead end."
"Bloody hell," Ron groaned. "What else is there?"
"Just keep looking," Hermione persisted.
"We've been looking for ages," Harry growled. "We've checked the Library, we've asked the Professors, and now we've gone through every owl order catalogue from Diagon Alley. What's left?"
"I might know a place," Ron whispered. "You both know it; it's where the darkest of the dark wizards do their shopping."
"Honestly Ron," Hermione lectured. "Knockturn Alley is just a magical shopping area like Diagon alley. While it may be true that some of the items found in Knockturn Alley may be a bit… dodgy, the vast majority of them are not."
"You already visited it huh?" Harry asked.
"There's a very nice used bookstore at the far end," Hermione admitted. "With a few things that I haven't been able to find anywhere else."
"They've still got dark things for sale," Ron persisted. "My dad went on a raid that netted a whole trunk full of banned items."
"It doesn't matter," Harry interjected to kill the coming argument. "Even if they did have illegal stuff then they wouldn't be selling it openly and I don't know how to find the shops that'll sell it… unless one of you knows something I don't."
"No," Hermione admitted, slumping in her chair. "The very definition of a black market is that it is unregulated and difficult to find, they'd all get arrested if it was easy."
"So that putts us back at square one," Harry sighed. "I still don't understand why the Professors won't help us."
"What about Dumbledore?" Hermione asked. "Surely he'd help."
"He told me to enjoy my childhood while I had the chance," Harry replied. "No help there."
"It's too bad that your mum wasn't from a pureblood family," Ron said. "Then we might have a few more options."
"Ron," Hermione screamed.
"Care to explain that mate?" Harry growled.
"I'm just saying that her family might have specialized in defence or something," Ron defended himself. "Something more useful then wards anyway."
"What do you mean Wards?" Harry demanded.
"Potter family's always been good at making wards," Ron explained. "Bill has a dozen books that were written by one of your great-great-grandfathers and he says that it's the best one on the market, even after all these years. I was just saying that if your mum had been a pure blood too then maybe her family would have been good at duelling or something."
"How does being part of a family make you better at something?" Hermione asked with a frown.
"It doesn't," Ron explained. "What makes you better is the fact that your family's been doing something for so long that you've got all the good information."
"Family techniques," Hermione said in understanding. "When you get something really good you don't share it with the rest of the world."
"I guess," Ron agreed.
"So what do some of the other families specialise in?" Harry asked slowly.
"Don't know mate," Ron said apologetically. "S'not the sort of thing you ask."
"Why not?" Hermione demanded.
"It's just not," Ron replied. "All I know is that the Potters are good at wards; don't know anything about any of the others."
"What about the Weasleys?" Harry asked.
"The Weasleys?" Ron said nervously. "Why do you ask?"
"You know what my family does," Harry replied. "What about yours?"
"It's only fair, Ron," Hermione agreed.
"Well," said a rapidly reddening Ron. "My family's good at fertility magic…"
"Oh… I guess that explains why you have so many siblings," Harry said with a smirk.
"I guess," Ron agreed. "It's not something I like to think about mate."
"So you're going to have a lot of children, too?" Hermione asked with an odd look on her face.
"Probably," Ron agreed. "Dad only had four brothers so I might not have too many."
"Four?" Hermione asked weakly.
"Two sets of twins," Ron explained. "My grandmother drew the line after two sets of twins."
"Let me guess," Harry said with a smirk. "Twins are common, too."
"And triplets," Ron added. "Usually doesn't go more then three at a time, it happens but it's not too common."
"Let's get things back on track," Hermione suggested. "I don't suppose that we'd be able to get the other pureblood families to let Harry use their resources."
"I doubt it," Ron replied. "It's not something you share outside your family… I… you could use the Weasley family spells if you like."
"Thanks Ron," Harry said warmly. "But I thought you said they could only be used by family members."
Ron's blush returned, "Mum's decided that you're part of the family," he explained, "and Dad's gone along with it. They were planning to give you a copy of the spells when you get married, don't tell them I told you this."
"Thanks Ron," Harry replied. "That really means a lot to me. Unfortunately, I can't think of a way to defeat the dark lord with fertility charms."
"Neither can I, Mate," Ron agreed. "But I hoped that one of you might have thought of something I didn't."
"Purebloods," Hermione said disdainfully. "Locking up information that could be used to defeat Voldemort. When are people going to learn that information should be free? I'll bet that we'd be able to find a way to defeat Voldemort if we had access to all those family spells."
"You really think that?" Harry asked slowly.
"I do," Hermione agreed. "Information has a right to be free to all. The free exchange of ideas is the only thing that allows us to move forward."
"Hmmmmm," Harry stroked his chin. "I might… hmmmm, I need to think about some things."
"Wanna go check out your family magic, huh?" Ron asked, "I can understand that mate. You're about the age where you should start learning it anyway."
"Can I look through it?" Hermione asked hopefully.
"Talk to me about it later," Harry muttered. "I'm sure I'll need your help to understand a few things anyway."
Harry wandered out of the room in a daze and eventually found himself in front of the Headmaster's office.
"I don't suppose you could just let him know I'm here could you?" Harry asked the gargoyle with a weak grin. The gargoyle tilted its head for a second, then stepped aside to allow passage. "Thank you."
"Harry my boy," Dumbledore said as Harry entered the office. "What brings you here?"
"I just heard something from Ron that I wanted to speak with you about sir," Harry explained.
"I think I understand," Dumbledore said kindly. "And I think I have just the thing for you."
"You do?" Harry asked hopefully.
"I do," Dumbledore confirmed. The old man pulled a book out of his desk and presented it to Harry, "if you have any questions that the book can not answer then I'm sure Professor McGonagall would be happy to answer them."
"Uh," Harry's jaw dropped as he read the title of the book. "It wasn't… I… I'm sure that I'll need a book on useful charms for the bedroom in the future, sir," Harry paused to collect his thoughts, "but that's not what I'm here about."
"Oh?" The old man asked with a twinkle, "then what do you need?"
"Ron mentioned that every pureblood family had a branch of magic they studied," Harry began. "And he said that the Potters were experts at constructing wards."
"And you would like to have your family books," Dumbledore said knowingly.
"I think they'd let me have a connection to my family," Harry explained. "I know it seems silly, but I'd feel like more of a Potter if I learned the family trade… even if I never did anything else with it."
"I understand," Dumbledore said kindly. "And I shall have them retrieved from their present location and brought to you."
"Thank you sir," Harry said in relief. "May I ask where they are?"
"They are in Britain's most heavily warded house," Dumbledore replied with a twinkle. "In a heavily warded trunk, I'm afraid that I cannot tell you more without violating an oath I made to a friend."
"Constant vigilance," Harry muttered to himself.
"I can neither confirm nor deny," Dumbledore replied, his eyes twinkling like mad.
"I understand, sir," Harry sighed. "Do you know how soon they'll get here?"
"If my friend is at home," Dumbledore began, "the trunk should be waiting for you when you get to your dorm room."
"Thank you, sir," Harry said as he rose from his chair. "I won't take up anymore of your time."
"Feel free to visit at any time, Harry," Dumbledore said with a smile. "My door is always open."
Harry walked stiffly out of the Headmaster's office and glared at the book he'd been given. On the one hand he'd gotten it from the Headmaster, on the other hand… well, it could be useful. After tucking the book into one of his pockets, Harry walked back to the Gryffindor tower and was pleasantly surprised to find a trunk waiting for him on his bed. On top of the trunk was a small pile of books and a note which Harry took a few moments to examine.
Your father entrusted this to me and I'm passing it on to you. I can't tell you what the password is, but your father told me that if you grew up with Black that you'd know it. I have included a small selection of books that I've managed to acquire over the years, your father wouldn't take them, but I hope you will. Remember, knowing how to undo something that you've created will help you become more effective.
P.S. I'm going to want you to come by to add a few layers to my defences after you've mastered a few skills, I'm feeling a bit exposed.
A slow smile formed on Harry's face as he read the first title, 'How to Get Through Wards and Other Skills the Ministry Doesn't Want You to Know.' It seemed that things were beginning to look up.
Harry spent the rest of that night and most of the next morning studying his family's techniques and the books that Moody had sent him.
"Harry?" Harry jumped at Hermione's call. "Ron said you were up all night."
"Yeah," Harry agreed sleepily. "I was, I got these books from Moody with the stuff from my family and I've been looking through it all night."
"You didn't get any sleep?" Hermione asked with a frown.
"I don't think so," Harry said with a yawn. "It was all so interesting."
"Why don't you show me what Moody sent you," Hermione suggested.
"Ok," Harry agreed. "It's this stuff here."
"Harry," Hermione said flatly. "What are you planning to do with this?"
"The information I need is locked up away from where I can use it," Harry replied dully. "And you said it yourself, information yearns to be free."
"Yes, but I didn't think you'd do this," Hermione protested weakly.
"I've decided to stop being passive," Harry said firmly. "The next time I fight Voldemort, I won't be some unprepared kid. If I win then it'll be because of skill not luck, and if I lose… if I lose then at least I'll know I tried."
"Why don't you put all this away for now," Hermione changed the subject, "and get some rest… I'll bring up something for you to eat from the great hall."
"Thanks Hermione," Harry said with a grin. "Just wake me up in a few hours."
"I will, Harry," Hermione agreed, "and then I think we're going to have to have a long talk about things with Ron."
"Ok," Harry said. He put his books back into the trunk and closed the lid; he was asleep before his head hit the pillow.
"How am I going to handle this," Hermione muttered to herself as she walked out of the room. "Bad enough when he's just lazy and doesn't want to study, how am I going to handle him when he's motivated to do something?"
Hermione was deep in thought when she entered the great hall and took her place by Ron.
"Murgle H'mogle," Ron grunted.
"Don't talk with your mouth full," Hermione scolded absently, "and remind me to save something for Harry."
"What's going on?" Ron asked after swallowing his food.
"The three of us are going to have a long quiet talk after this," Hermione said primly. "Quiet in that I don't want you shouting no matter what happens."
"Same to you," Ron replied smugly. "You have to be calm, too."
"Of course," Hermione said quickly. "We're all going to be completely calm and rational about this."
Hermione finished her meal quickly and then carefully wrapped a sandwich in her handkerchief for Harry. "Coming, Ron?"
"You go ahead," Ron waved. "I'm not finished yet."
"If you keep eating like that, you'll be as big as Hagrid by the time you're thirty," Hermione snipped.
"Ah, I'll be married, finished with my Professional Quidditch career by then so it won't matter," Ron waved off her concerns.
"I… see," Hermione said with a frown. "I'll leave you to it then."
Hermione made her way back to the tower and found Harry waiting for her at the entrance. "I thought you were going to get some sleep?"
"Hermione," Harry said nervously. "I need to talk with you about something."
"What do you need, Harry?" Hermione asked quickly.
"You know that spell book I got from… you know?" Harry said slowly.
"The one about breaking and entering?" Hermione said flatly.
"You agreed that it could be useful in the fight against Voldemort," Harry defended himself.
"Yes, I know, I just don't… never mind, I'll explain it later," Hermione forced herself to get back to the subject. "Go on, Harry."
"Well, I was practicing around my bunk and I found something," Harry said. "It took me a few minutes but I was able to figure out that it was a hidden compartment."
"You need me to help you get it open?" Hermione asked with a smile.
"No," Harry replied. "I was able to get it open… I found something… odd in the compartment."
"What'd you find?" Hermione demanded. "Was it dangerous?"
"I found a magazine," Harry said reluctantly, "called Naughty Witch Magazine."
"Ah," Hermione said knowingly. Damn those Dursleys for never teaching Harry about basic biological functions. "Harry, it's perfectly natural for wizards to enjoy looking at pictures of naked witches. It's ok if you looked at those pictures and there's nothing wrong with you," Hermione said gently. "I'd be happy to explain any funny feelings you may have felt and I'd also be willing to help you find someone else to explain if hearing it from me would make you feel uncomfortable."
"Glad you think so," Harry's voice cracked, "but that's not what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Then what did you want to talk to me about?" Hermione asked sharply.
"Page twenty four," Harry said, handing over the magazine.
Hermione took the magazine and flipped to the indicated page, Hermione's eyes widened in shock and she turned to stare at Harry. "Is that?"
"Mrs. Weasley," Harry confirmed.
"Do you think Mr. Weasley knows?" Hermione said dumbly.
"I'd say so," Harry agreed. "Turn to the next page."
"My god," Hermione's voice cracked, "I didn't even know that position was possible."
"What are we going to do?" Harry asked. "We can't tell Ron and I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at Mrs. Weasley the same way again."
"Let's just pretend we never saw this," Hermione suggested after a moment of thought.
"I'm not sure I can do that," Harry said nervously. "You don't happen to know any memory charms do you?"
"None I'd cast on you," Hermione replied absently. "Hide it with your family magic and let's never ever tell Ron about this."
"Sounds like a plan," Harry agreed quickly.
"What do we do with this?" Hermione asked, holding up the magazine.
"I'm going to send it to Mr. Weasley by one of the school owls," Harry replied. "Maybe it was someone using Polyjuice and if it was then he deserves to know about it. If it wasn't then I don't want him to know who found it."
"Good plan," Hermione agreed quickly. "Let's get it out of the castle before Ron gets back."
The two friends rushed to the owlery and quickly found one of the less noticeable school owls. "Tie it on quick," Harry commanded. "I want to be back in the tower when Ron gets back."
"I'm going as fast as I can," Hermione whispered back. The girl's fingers blurred as she tied several knots. "There. Take this to Arthur Weasley." They both sighed in relief as they watched the owl disappear into the distance.
"Now, let's get back to the tower," Harry suggested, "and pretend nothing ever happened."
"I'm already repressing the memory," Hermione agreed. The duo returned to Gryffindor tower to find their friend waiting for them.
"Hey guys," Ron greeted them. "I figured you'd be in the tower."
"Uh…" Hermione began, "we thought you'd still be at breakfast."
"I decided to hurry," Ron replied. "Figured it was important… whatever you wanted to talk about I mean."
"Oh…" Harry said nervously, "yes… let's get to it then."
"I think I know what you want to tell me," Ron said slyly. "Good on the two of you."
"Yes… well," Hermione stammered. "That's not important right now, the important thing is that we talk to you about something else."
"Ok," Ron agreed. "What do the two of you want to talk about?"
"Let's go up to your dorm," Hermione suggested. "We'll have a bit more privacy up there."
"Why did Ron just give me a knowing wink?" Harry whispered to Hermione as the trio walked up the stairs.
"He thinks we're dating," Hermione whispered back.
"He thinks what?" Harry whispered in shock.
"It's either that or find a better excuse for what we were doing," Hermione replied.
"So what did you two want to talk about then?" Ron asked once they'd reached the privacy of Harry's bed.
"One moment," Hermione replied. The boys watched as she put up several privacy charms. "Go on, Harry."
"You know how we figured that most of the information we'd need to fight Voldemort is in private family collections?" Harry began nervously.
"Yeah mate," Ron agreed.
"Well… you know how Potters are supposed to be good at wards?" Harry said nervously.
"I know mate," Ron said with a nod. "I told you."
"Well, why don't I just use that to go in and take the knowledge we need?" Harry asked with a fake grin.
"Because it'd push them right into Voldemort's hands mate," Ron replied. "Or at least away from the light if they ever figured out who was robbing them. Serious stuff, mate."
"How about we just go after Voldemort's supporters?" Hermione suggested, "No danger of making them go to the other side."
"Could work," Ron allowed. "And I'd love to see the look on Malfoy's face when he realised that his family secrets weren't so secret. Count me in."
"Ok," Harry began enthusiastically. "I've got these books from Moody on cracking Wards, the best one seems to be the one with the red cover."
"Don't waste your time with that thing Harry," Hermione said with a look of distaste.
"I thought you were with us on this?" Ron said with a look of confusion.
Hermione sniffed. "I am, but that book was outdated decades ago," she said.
"Well, it isn't as if you have a better one, is it?" Ron glared.
Hermione ran from the room, returning with a slim volume.
"This is the Little Black Book of Ward Viruses," she said proudly. "It was written by some American students at MIT&T, and was inspired by the Little Black Book of Computer Viruses. A friend I met on the Internet during the holidays is going to send me a copy of 40 Runes, too!"
Harry looked at it doubtfully.
Hermione pulled out a sheaf of photocopies. "AND I have a copy of the MIT&T Guide to Ward Picking, by Mel the Mage."
Ron was wide-eyed. "'Mione…"
Harry poked the Little Black Book carefully, much the same way that one would treat a box containing a highly irritated feline. "How many years in Azkaban would these things get you?"
"None," Hermione said smugly. "Since it's obvious that the only reason Harry has them is to design better countermeasures."
"What?" Ron asked in shock.
"After your little lecture about family specialties, I did a little research," Hermione explained, "and it seems that the law allows warders and people studying to be warders to collect information on how to break wards so that countermeasures can be developed. I don't know why your father didn't want to take Moody's books, especially considering the trouble he got into when he was younger."
"I don't think he was planning to join the family business," Harry replied. "There's a note in the trunk that mentioned that he wanted to make a name for himself, not follow family tradition."
AN: Thanks to Ed and AlanP, along with several others on my group for some of the things that are making their way into this story.